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Postgraduate study

Design MA

Work collaboratively with students from a range of design disciplines to develop research and practice-based design solutions that respond to the changing needs of society.


Course overview

Venuka Wickramaarachchi, MA Design (with Advanced Practice)

Hear from Venuka as he talks about his experience showcasing his designs at the Ferrari fashion show in Milan.

Explore the range of skills needed to progress in the design industry, developing a higher-level major project in your chosen field, from fashion to industrial design. The course embeds your development through live projects or internships with optional modules in specific design areas.

Learn through initiatives and activities that stimulate and develop creative practice, problem-solving, manufacture and distribution. Thinking, making and observation are applied to practical and social contexts. Your playful and fictional approaches are encouraged through workshops and connections with international events and research projects. The course is delivered by a diverse range of staff with internationally recognised profiles in research and practice. You take an interdisciplinary approach to creative problem solving by sharing creative solutions with experienced practitioners – from wearable tech in garments to growing fabrics – pushing the boundaries in design thinking. You consider the many opportunities to create impact though design, learning to mix contemporary practice and thinking to solve real-world problems.

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Course details

In stage 1 you undertake professional skills development to build your digital expertise and skills in research. Stage 2 culminates in a feasibility study for a negotiated major project. Stage 3 enables you to complete your major project work, supported by regular tutorial contact and studio interaction.

Course structure

Core modules

Critical Thinking and Theoretical Contexts

This module explores and interrogates key concepts and critical thinking in the 21st century. It promotes debate on developing themes within culture and the creative arts in theory and practice.

Through lectures you explore critical thinking and cultural philosophical approaches. Key issues are explored through talking and debating in seminars.

There are two assessments; a 20 minute presentation focusing on cultural theory in relation to your design practice and field of specialism, and a critical report that recognises design practice with respect to cultural and critical theory.

Design Integration

As a designer you engage with all disciplines, applying critical thinking and research to tackle creative problems.

You focus on process, method and structure in the context of the economical, psychological, societal, environmental and material aspects of modern global communities.

You work across multiple disciplines to explore contemporary approaches to problem solving through co-design.

You are assessed through a 15 minute presentation to an industry expert.

Design Research Methods

You learn a number of research methods and practices in order to carry out primary design research to identify solutions to real-world problems.

You cover investigations into practical design applications, strategic planning and theoretical speculations.

Through seminars you debate and discuss case studies and the practical application of research methods.

You are assessed on your research plan (20%) and a critical analysis of research methods appropriate to your own design practice, identifying how these are implemented within a design problem solving context (80%).

Enterprising Leadership and Project Management

You learn through seminars and student-led group work, with guest speakers providing real-world perspectives and expertise. You are assessed by a group portfolio, demonstrating innovation, inventiveness, an entrepreneurial mindset, leadership, creativity and project management. The portfolio contains a product development report and a group presentation detailing the process and findings.

Innovation by Design

This module gets you to think about approaches to design and develop solutions to design problems using creative and innovative strategies.

Through problem-solving workshops you gain an understanding of the design process and learn new skills and methods.

You are assessed through a portfolio of work, displaying a critical and methodological approach to problem solving with a supporting critical reflective report. Example portfolios are available to guide you.

MA Design Major Project

You develop and direct you own design project, taking into account your learnings from previous modules. You are encouraged to demonstrate a high level of professional competence and to have a deep understanding of the social and philosophical context in which you are practising. You are also expected to demonstrate the enterprise potential of your ideas and to understand the future possibilities and contexts in which your ideas will exist. Your project work gives an indication of potential for further study or implementation in professional design contexts. You critically reflect upon your own learning and become prepared for continuous professional development.

You are assessed through a portfolio of design work accompanied by a critical report that details the process, research, data collection, critical thinking and issues as well as solutions and outcomes. Example portfolios are available to guide you.

Research Methods

You gain a grounding in research approaches and processes in the creative arts disciplines in areas such as animation, visual effects, games and concept art.

You learn how to construct a rigorous critical framework to generate evidence based material to justify and inform your conceptual investigation through creative practice. You also critically evaluate and source appropriate academic research and relevant outputs from the creative arts disciplines.
Your assessment is 100% ICA, a written critical discourse/research proposal that contextualizes and theorizes the accompanying practice element, this may form the basis of your master’s project.


Modules offered may vary.


How you learn

This programme enables you to build progressively on your knowledge and experience. At MA level it is vital that you take an active role in structuring your own learning, and engage with the relevant methods and underpinning theories of your discipline.

Teaching and learning is a student-centred, activity-based process which integrates the content, sequence and development of student learning. You develop your knowledge, skills and practice with the support of appropriate teaching and learning strategies. The methods we use, and the philosophy behind them, are under constant review and appraisal to ensure they remain relevant, rigorous and progressive. 

We use a variety of methods including tutorials, seminars and workshops – this enables key learning principles to be applied to your day-to-day interactions. Individual support, provided by a personal tutor, is an integral feature of the learning and teaching strategy. An intrinsic aspect of your main study area and its supporting subjects is research. 
Approaches to teaching and learning tend to have the following underlying principles.

  • You develop professional responsibility and autonomy in learning to integrate theory and practice.
  • We enable active and co-operative learning.
  • We provide flexible and negotiated assessment opportunities directly related to the individual learning context
  • Our resources match programme outcomes and needs.
  • Practical workshops introduce specific skills, followed by independent learning, project work, tutorials and critiques.

How you are assessed

We use a variety of assessment methods throughout the modules, as specified in the module handbooks. These are primarily in-course assessments, where you submit work during the module rather than sit timed exams at the end.

The modules are generally project based and primarily assessed through appraising a portfolio of work, often accompanied by a verbal presentation. Design work is largely developmental – you are assessed on the process you use to achieve your solutions as well as the result, so it is essential that you provide clear evidence of your development work.


Entry requirements

Applicants are normally expected to have at least a 2.2 UK honours degree, or equivalent qualification. A range of degree subjects are acceptable including subjects related to arts, design or other creative discipline. We also consider relevant experience or equivalent qualifications.

You are expected to be a confident and independent learner with a good understanding of the design process, idea development and critical thinking. You are asked to present a portfolio of work or a completed project showing the development of your work from behind the scenes, or an ongoing project showing the progression and direction of your work.

Students with a degree awarded outside the UK must also meet the University's minimum English language requirements.

Non-EU international students who need a student visa to study in the UK should check our web pages on UKVI-compliant English language requirements. The University also provides pre-sessional English language courses if you do not meet the minimum English language requirement.

For general information please see our overview of entry requirements

International applicants can find out what qualifications they need by visiting Your Country



Career opportunities

As a graduate you have the opportunity to go on to a range of design-related employment requiring specialist digital knowledge and skills.


Information for international applicants


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Useful information

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2024/25 entry

Fee for UK applicants
£7,365 a year

More details about our fees

Fee for international applicants
£17,000 a year

More details about our fees for international applicants

  • Length: September enrolment: 1 year. January enrolment: 16 months.
  • Start date: September or January
  • Semester dates

Apply now (full-time)



2024/25 entry

Fee for UK applicants
£820 for each 20 credits

More details about our fees

  • Length: September enrolment: 2 years. January enrolment: 28 months.
  • Attendance: Typically one day a week
  • Start date: September or January
  • Semester dates

Apply now (part-time)

Apply now (part-time)


Choose Teesside

  • Student work
  • Student and graduate profiles

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    Ibrahim A BabatundeMA Design

    Ibrahim came from Nigeria to study MA Design at Teesside University. Read about his experience on the course here.

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    Nkem Ogbolu

    Nkem OgboluMA Design

    Nkem is studying MA Design which offers a multidisciplinary approach to the world of design. Read about his experiences on the course in this student profile.

    Meet Nkem

    Egypt Clarke

    Egypt ClarkeMA Design

    Egypt studies our MA Design course, find out why she chose this interdisciplinary course.

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  • News

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    Students from Teesside University are bringing a new event to the region which will provide a platform for creatives to put their talents on display.

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UK students


Telephone: 01642 738801

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International students


Telephone: +44 (0) 1642 738900

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